The annual Hyundai Commission is a series of site-specific installations by contemporary artists in Tate Modern’s iconic Turbine Hall. The next commission is by Cuban installation and performance artist Tania Bruguera and opens on 2 October 2018.
Best known for her politically-engaged projects and activism, Bruguera makes work that addresses institutional power, borders and migration. She has established a unique concept for her political approach to art – Arte Util (useful art) – that will continue to be developed in this new work in London.
Also at Tate Modern is the UK’s first major retrospective of the work of textile artist Anni Albers (1899–1994). Opening on 11 October 2018, this exhibition brings together her most important works from major collections in the US and Europe, many of which are being shown in the UK for the first time. Beautiful, small-scale creations as well as large wall hangings have been brought together with many of the works in which she explored new technologies and synthetic fibres.
Opening ahead of the centenary of the Bauhaus in 2019, this exhibition is long overdue recognition of Albers’ pivotal contribution to modern art and design, and part of Tate Modern’s wider commitment to showing artists working in textiles.
Bank of England Museum
In 1957, Felix Topolski RA (1907-1989) was commissioned by the Bank of England to sketch everyday life at its newly opened printing works in Debden, Essex. (This is where every Bank of England note has been printed since then.) These paintings and drawings by the Polish expressionist artist are on display at the Bank of England Museum from 1 October 2018.
Topolski’s captivating sketches show wonderful behind the scenes views. They convey the striking architecture of the building when it was new, an insight into the banknote printing and checking processes, and quirky depictions of staff both at work and leisure.
The twelfth London Literature Festival is at the Southbank Centre from 18 to 28 October 2018. It brings together today’s leading writers, thinkers and cultural observers to explore the burning issues of our times with live readings, newly commissioned performances, talks, debates, poetry, workshops, book launches, family events, music and more.
This year it takes in everything from a celebration of Homer’s Odyssey to an examination of contemporary America in the lead-up to the midterm elections. This brings a rare appearance from Salman Rushdie discussing his provocative new novel and author Marilynne Robinson advocating the value of hope, plus talks on topics from the American Dream to feminism in Trump’s America.
Other highlights include exclusive memoir launches from the Who’s frontman Roger Daltrey and Oscar-winning actor Sally Field; hip-hop artist Akala and historian David Olusoga discussing empire and race; Carol Ann Duffy reading from her final collection as Poet Laureate, and a full day of events celebrating Young Adult literature.
Also at Southbank Centre, Sophie Ellis-Bextor makes her debut at the Royal Festival Hall on 3 October 2018. In this concert, the diva’s hits, such as Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) and Murder on the Dancefloor, are backed by a full live orchestra giving the disco classics a lush revitalisation, I’m told.
Opening on 15 October 2018 at the Barbican Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company – Macbeth has Christopher Eccleston in his RSC debut in the title role of Shakespeare’s psychological thriller. Lady Macbeth is played by Niamh Cusack with Edward Bennett as Macduff.
Returning home from battle, the victorious Macbeth meets three witches on the heath (played by, somewhat creepy, children in this production). Driven by their disturbing prophecies, he sets out on the path to murder.
Polly Findlay’s contemporary production of this dark tragedy of power and revenge marks her return to the Barbican following her stunning staging of The Alchemist in 2016.
Two new exhibitions open at the FTM (Fashion & Textile Museum) this month. On from 12 October 2018 in the main gallery is Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs. As a decade of design, the 1930s saw off the excess of the Jazz Age and ushered in the utilitarianism of World War II. As the flapper grew up, so too did her fashions. The new silhouettes of the 1930s played with the hard-edged chic seen in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, the unexpected as seen in the surrealists and the sensuality of silver screen sirens. The exhibition explores the day and evening styles of the decade, complemented by photographs of the stars who championed them.
Also opening on 12 October, but this time in the small gallery, is Cecil Beaton: Thirty from the 30s Fashion, Film and Fantasy. Celebrated as one of Britain’s most influential portrait photographers, Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) was among the greatest visual chroniclers of the twentieth century. This distinguished photographer spent many years as a major contributor to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, The Sketch and Tatler, photographing the most notable names in fashion, film, the arts and society.
Athi-Patra Ruga: Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions opens at Somerset House on 4 October 2018. In his first major solo UK exhibition, the South African artist brings three recent series of work together for the first time to unveil a surreal, mythical utopia, filled with a collection of extraordinary characters.
Showcasing his diverse practice, from drawings and sculpture to film and photography, plus beautiful hand-crafted petit point tapestry, the exhibition immerses visitors in Ruga’s vibrant world – an allegory of post-apartheid political, cultural and social systems, and a shimmering vision of a more humanist future.
Opening on 10 October, A Very Very Very Dark Matter at the Bridge Theatre sounds really interesting.
In a townhouse in Copenhagen works Hans Christian Andersen, a teller of exquisite and fantastic children’s tales beloved by millions. But the true source of his stories dwells in his attic upstairs, her existence a dark secret kept from the outside world.
As dangerous, twisted and funny as his National Theatre and Broadway hit The Pillowman, Martin McDonagh’s new play travels deep into the abysses of the imagination.
We got this far without mentioning Halloween but we all know this spooky, annual event is at the end of the month. How about celebrating in a new way with whisky tasting under the hull of Cutty Sark on 31 October?
Hosted by accredited expert Julie Lambeth, owner of South London Wine School, guests are guided through an intimate whisky tasting that highlights the characteristics of six different varieties of whisky while enjoying the surroundings of the iconic clipper, Cutty Sark. Spaces are limited so definitely book ahead.
If you head to Greenwich earlier in the day you could also see the Hubble Vision exhibition at the Astronomy Centre at Royal Observatory Greenwich.
View an incredible selection of Hubble Space Telescope images showing nearby planets to distant galaxies. These images demonstrate how important Hubble has been to growing our understanding of the universe.
The exhibition is free, open daily, and on until 12 May 2019.
If you would like even more ideas for this month, do have a look at last month’s recommendations as many are still valid for October too.
It’s the annual Lord Mayor’s Show on 10 November 2018. A tradition over 800 years old, this is regarded as a classic piece of British pageantry. Since 1215 every newly-elected Lord Mayor of the City of London has been required to travel through the winding medieval streets of the City to Westminster to swear loyalty to the Crown.
Eleven years after its NT debut, and having played in eleven countries to over seven million people, War Horse returns to the National Theatre to mark the centenary of Armistice Day. Performances begin on 8 November 2018, playing in repertoire until 5 January 2019.
The Royal Shakespeare Company season at the Barbican continues with Romeo and Juliet opening on 2 November 2018. Set in a world very like our own, this Romeo and Juliet is about a generation of young people born into violence and ripped apart by the bitter divisions of their parents.
And finally, reflecting on the powerful poppy installation at the Tower of London in 2014, Historic Royal Palaces will deliver a new temporary installation in November 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon and on Facebook as AboutLondonLaura.
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